The observable universe is home to an unimaginable number of stars, estimated to be upwards of a septillion. However, today’s discussion centers not on stars themselves, but on the larger structures they create. Galaxies, comprised of stellar systems, gas, and dark matter, are gravitationally bound together, forming unique shapes and patterns.
One of the most unusual galaxies is M86, located roughly 52 million light-years from Earth. It is notable for its incredible speed, moving towards the Milky Way at a rate of around 244 kilometers per second, making it one of the fastest-moving blue-shifted galaxies. M86 is also shedding its own interstellar matter as it moves, leaving long lines of ionized hydrogen behind. This galaxy is also home to an impressive number of globular clusters, around 25 times as many as in the Milky Way. It is theorized that these clusters are the remains of dwarf galaxies that M86 absorbed in the past, potentially destroying tens or even hundreds of other galaxies in the process.
Another remarkable galaxy is ESO 137-001, located 227 million light-years away from the sun. It is an incredibly massive galaxy, weighing between 5 to 14 billion solar masses, with young and bright blue giant stars. ESO 137-001 is part of Abell 3627, a large galaxy cluster, and is moving towards its center at an incredible speed of almost 2,000 kilometers per second. The galaxy collides with interstellar gas pressure inside the cluster, causing its own gas to be blown out, leaving behind tails that stretch for up to 260,000 light-years. The mass of interstellar gas in these areas is two to four times that of the gas inside the galaxy, leading to a common occurrence of star bursts. From the side, ESO 137-001 appears like a giant jellyfish floating through endless expanses of space. However, as the galaxy continuously loses its interstellar gas, its life expectancy diminishes too, with not much material left for new stars to form.
One galaxy that speaks for itself is Baby Boom, where around 4,000 stars are born every year, which is about 400 times more than in the Milky Way. This galaxy is located around 12.2 billion light-years away from the Earth, meaning what we see when observing it is what was happening just one and a half billion years after the hypothetical big bang. Baby Boom can provide us with a lot of information about the early stages of our universe’s evolution, despite the reasons why stars are produced here at such a rapid rate still remaining unknown.
Finally, the Sombrero Galaxy is a remarkable sight, observable even through an amateur telescope. Located 30 million light-years from the sun, its diameter is roughly four times smaller than that of the Milky Way. The Sombrero Galaxy’s most striking feature is a massive ring of dust and cold hydrogen that envelops it, where most young stars are born. The galaxy’s elaborate inner makeup reveals that most stars in this galaxy form a structure typical of elliptical galaxies, while others form spiral structures concealed with an elliptical cloud. This phenomenon is thought to be a result of two galaxies colliding, with their stars mingling together in the process.
In summary, galaxies offer a fascinating glimpse into the complexity and vastness of the universe, each one unique and remarkable in its own right. By studying these cosmic structures, we can gain a deeper understanding of the forces that govern our universe’s evolution and formation.